Sunday, May 05, 2013

Money = Corruption

My email to The Spokesmen, a round-table podcast that discusses all forms of cycling. This sums up my current thoughts and attitude about many things...

Here’s a new tactic and train of thought for everyone who is feeling negative toward competitive cycling at all levels as a result of doping scandals:


Doping is rampant in all forms of sport, and cycling is the only sport that seems willing to air all of it’s dirty laundry in an attempt to clean-up. That is positive, that is good news! To think that cycling is the only “dirty” sport is naive; an application of false logic. Here in the States we most assuredly have horrible doping issues within the NFL, MLB, PGA, NBA … not to mention swimming, track & field, gymnastics… the problem being that the respective governing bodies are not willing to stop it from happening.

When large sums of money are invested in an endeavor you create the opportunity for corruption. The world has pushed sport to the point that our societies worship those who can throw a ball harder, run faster, pedal faster or have superior hand-eye coordination. Massive sums of money are invested via sponsorship, marketing, training, etc and that investment demands a return. The attitude of ‘Winning at All Cost’ has become a trait that people envy and leads us to ‘Windfall Profits at All Cost’, but that is another discussion altogether.

We live in a society of consumption, which dictates that marketing dollars (advertising in all forms) must have a quantifiable correlation to sales. Having worked in advertising as an industry I have seen, first-hand, the sort of calculations and considerations that influence decisions about how and where to invest marketing money. I have also seen, first-hand, the unrealistic attitudes and expectations that accompany said investment. Here is another angle... The pressure heaped on athletes to perform and win is so great that they are pressed into a life-changing decision: To Dope or Not to Dope. Risk cancer, kidney failure, congestive heart failure and expulsions from sport OR lose their contract as a result of lacking performance? What sort of society are we that applies this sort of pressure, demands these levels of performance and acts as though we have been personally assaulted when the real victim is the athlete?

Can we all remember that high-profile athletes are also people? People who happen to be able to pedal faster or produce more watts per kilogram? While they have worked hard -and trained countless hours- to attain their position they are still just men and women who happen to ride a bicycle, play football, baseball, hockey, golf, etc better than you or me. They are fallible, and they are making the best decisions they can based on the environment in which our society has created for them to operate.

Recently on The Spokesmen, I have heard much pandering toward women's cycling and how it is all so pure and clean. If this is true, and who am I to say if it is or isn't, are you all so naive to think that doping will never be an issue after the world shifts it's attention to women's cycling and invests the same sort of money in it that we have in men's cycling? The fact that it costs tens of millions of dollars to have 9 guys (or gals) pedal bicycles through scenic terrain is, when you really get down to it, absurd. Given the current economy (economic attitude, not the middle-class recession) we are faced with a situation where money corrupts all things. We see it in politics, business, personal decisions and sport.

At any rate, the real point I wanted to make (within the rant) was about how we need to stop being so damn negative and realize that cycling is in the news about doping because cycling is the only sport with the balls to do something about it. So let's celebrate that instead of loathing it.

Thanks, I really enjoy the podcast

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